On November 8, 2007, Governor Jon Corzine issued a conditional veto of the New Jersey “Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act” (the “Millville Dallas Act”) – rejecting only the portion of the bill that would have expanded the notice requirements for New Jersey employers with 100 or more employees who have certain plant closings, transfers and mass layoffs. Although commending the legislature for crafting a bill aimed to address “shortcomings” under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”), the Governor noted the 60-day notice requirements of the federal WARN and similar statutes adopted in sister-states—commenting that “employers benefit from consistency with regard to notification laws of this type.”
Even though the Governor disapproved of the use of a different notice provision than that included in federal WARN, he nonetheless expressed his support for a lengthened notice period in both statutes. Recognizing efforts to lengthen the minimum notice period under the federal WARN from 60 to 90 days, the Governor suggested that the Legislature include a provision in the bill which would automatically extend the minimum notice provisions under the proposed state law should any extension be made to the federal law.
The bill now returns to the Legislature, where the Governor’s changes can be approved or modified. Despite the conditional veto, prudent employers planning plant closings, transfers and mass layoffs are nonetheless encouraged to give employees as much notice as possible in order to provide them with a sufficient cushion of time to transition their careers. By giving employees at least 90 days notice where practicable, employers may avoid the potentially onerous penalties should the Millville Dallas Act ultimately be passed into law and become “immediately effective” as proposed.